Using a panel study design and data from 85 women who experienced IPV and sought civil legal services, we examined women’s psychological well-being over a one-year period of time.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization is often associated with negative mental health outcomes; yet, little is known about the psychological well-being of women who experience IPV and receive civil legal services. Civil legal services are not specifically designed to focus on women’s mental health needs but Sullivan’s Social and Emotional Well-Being Framework helps to explain why women receiving this type of formal assistance may demonstrate positive changes in psychological well-being. In the current study, approximately two thirds of the women received assistance from Iowa Legal Aid (ILA) for a civil protective order (n = 56) and the rest were represented in a family law matter. We used measures of mental health (depression, posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD]) and well-being (social support, resilience, goal directed thinking, empowerment). Our hypotheses that women would experience a decrease in mental health symptoms and an increase in well-being were partially supported. Women reported a decrease in depressive and PTSD symptoms over one year but there were no changes in their goal-oriented thinking or resilience. Implications for practice and future research are included. (Publisher Abstract Provided)